Parliament has temporarily blocked the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) from operating due to disagreement in approving the report of the Mines and Energy Committee on the 2016 program of activities of the Corporation.
Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee, Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, had told the House to adopt the Committee’s report where the GNPC was soliciting the support of Parliament to acquire a new office building complex at Energy City, within the Airport development area although the Corporation was yet to table such a request before the Legislature for consideration.
Aspects of the report had quoted the GNPC as needing additional funds to undertake the activities planned for the year 2016.
The Corporation had projected to make GH?799,920,000.00 from its program of activities in the year 2016; it would at the same time require GH?2,631,650,000.00 to undertake such activities during the year.
Should the Corporation be allowed to use the money it would generate from its activities, they would still need additional GH?1,831,730,000.00 to shore up the deficit.
That aside, the Committee observed that the GNPC had budgeted for US$100,000,000.00 to provide a guarantee for the Karpowership which has been contracted by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
Officials of the Corporation argued that the funds when so committed to the project will reduce the cash balance of the GNPC.
Alhaji Sorogho is also the MP for Madina after reading out the Committee’s report urged Members to adopt it but surprisingly, the report received dissenting views from the lawmakers, especially, those on the Minority side.
Ranking Member of the Mines and Energy Committee, K. T. Hammond argued that he was very surprised that the GNPC had veered off its core mandate and now giving loans to State institutions to undertake their projects when it was at the same time on the market soliciting for funds to run its activities.
In his view the GNPC is wasting the country’s financial resources the earlier Parliament pulls the breaks on them, the better.
For instance, it said the GNPC is now the guarantor for the Karpower badge when actual sense it is the Bank of Ghana that is supposed to be playing that role.
That aside, the Corporation he argued, has also provided US$58,000,000 to TOR as a loan to pursue its programs.
“It is about time a good eye was kept on GNPC. The way the GNPC has been spending the nation’s money is uncalled for. GNPC does not listen. It decides on what pleases them. On the matter of the head office, it came up about three years ago that they want to have a new head office because the old one was dilapidated and the House agreed that they should spend within a limit of GH?40,000,000.00 but later we realized that the money had shot up to GH?70,000,000.00. Why then do they want to go to Energy City when some funds had already been committed in the designs they brought before Parliament? GNPC is wasting Ghana’s money”, he noted.
MP for Old Tafo, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, on his part was bemused about the demands of the GNPC when it has money to spend but surprisingly giving out those monies as loans.
“This person who needs 2billion goes and gives $100million to ECG – is it a loan? Is GNPC ECG to guarantee for Karpower? That is the point. Is that it’s core mandate? Then you give US$58million to TOR and US$33million to Ghana Gas, does it make sense to you? And then you turn around, and you want to go and borrow US$750million”.
“As Parliament, I want us to consider if this makes financial sense. If it does, you go ahead and approve it. For me, it doesn’t. That is now how I run my family. I don’t go and give US$50million and then turn around and tell my family I have to go and borrow US$5million so you can go to school. For me, it doesn’t make sense. We all want GNPC to be doing well but when it doesn’t make sense to us, let us not say go ahead and approve. It doesn’t help us”.
“Let us step it down, call the Minister of Petroleum to answer further questions. When we are satisfied, we will go ahead and approve it. It makes much more sense to say that let us approve, and nothing happens. It is happening every year. Mr. Speaker, the history of GNPC made us change its core mandate, and it has become useful”, he added.
First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, who presided over the affairs of the matter having listened to the concerns raised by Members deferred the voting on the motion (subject matter) until the House gets in touch with the Minister of Petroleum, Hon. Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah to answer all the questions raised by Members in connection with the issue.